By Emily Ketterer INDIANAPOLIS–Rep. Dan Leonard making his way from his seat in the back of the House to the front usually meant one thing in the just-ended session of the General Assembly—someone broke one of the chamber’s rules. “Point of order,” he’d say to House Speaker Brian Bosma, R-Indianapolis, and go on to explain what rule was broken. If the speaker agreed, the amendment or bill went nowhere. Leonard, a Republican from Huntington, finished his first session as chair of the House Rules and Legislative Procedure Committee, and one of his jobs was determining whether the parties followed the rules when drafting bills or amendments. [caption id="attachment_38735" align="alignright" width="307"]

The rules of the House thwarted Democrats in 2019 session

Rep. Dan Leonard, R-Huntington, is chair of the House Rules and Legislative Procedure Committee. Photo by Emily Ketterer,

Rep. Dan Leonard, R-Huntington, is chair of the House Rules and Legislative Procedure Committee. Photo by Emily Ketterer,[/caption] The House and Senate each have their own set of rules that lawmakers must follow as they legislate, and they differ in each chamber. The House was most active in enforcing its rules where three common violations were often cited: germaneness, bill-pending and strip and insert. When Rep. Cherrish Pryor, D-Indianapolis, tried to amend the massive gambling bill to give some of the tax money from sports betting to injured college athletes, that was ruled not germane to the subject of the legislation. The “strip and insert” rule, which bars lawmakers from removing and replacing content entirely, was used to block Rep. Matt Pierce, D-Bloomington, from replacing the language of a bill about fire districts with a semicolon. His goal was to kill the bill because he said it was confusing, but he failed.. And, bill-pending means an amendment cannot be the same language or similar to another bill drafted in the House in the same year­––alive or dead. And then efforts by Rep. Sue Errington, D-Muncie, to add language to legalize medical marijuana by amending other legislation failed because Republicans involved the bill-pending rule. That rule bars amendments if the language is similar to other pending bills. Ryan Dvorak, the South Bend Democrat who is in charge of rules in his party, said Republicans use the rules as a “fighting tactic.” More than 10 points of orders were called to block their amendments in one week of the 2019 session. Dvorak said his members use the amendment process to get lawmakers to vote on issues important to Democrats because often their bills never make it very far in the legislative process. Bosma has pointed out to Democrats that he is only “enforcing the rules you guys wrote.” Democrats drafted the current rules of the chamber when they were the majority party. And Leonard has noted that he has, on occasion, suggested that Dvorak challenge an issue when he believed a fellow Republican violated the rules. The rules have to be followed, Leonard said, he tries to be fair to both parties even if his Republican leaders don’t always agree. “When Ryan (Dvorak) comes to me and asks about procedures and whatever, I will tell him the truth,” Leonard said. “I do have a lot of respect for those people, and even though they’re on the other side of the aisle for me, we still get along great.” Emily Ketterer is a reporter for, a news website powered by Franklin College journalism students.

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